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How To Tenderize Meat

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For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.
Watch this video to learn how to tenderize a piece of meat using a needler, whose prongs help break up the meat's firm fibers.

Video Transcript

I'm Chef Mark Elia from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm now going to show you a kitchen basic on how to tenderize a tough piece of meat.
The tenderizing tool we'll use is nothing more than a spring loaded series of needles. These are made by several different companies, and can be purchased in any kitchen store or online.
The reason we would use a needler, or pinner, would be to help break the fibers down in what could be a tough piece of meat. This particular piece of meat is called a tri-tip steak, and the fibers, as you can see, are somewhat heavy. It could be compared to a thick straw, like a milkshake straw, versus a thin straw, like a cocktail straw. The thicker the straw, the tougher the meat could be.
In this particular case, because it's so thick, we'll split this cut of meat in half horizontally to make it more user friendly. Then we'll take our needler and use a very simple method: pressing it down through the meat.
The finished product will come out much more tender than if we had not done this. You can go across both sides - and there we have a tenderized piece of meat.